Ariane Fortin sees Olympics end in controversial split decision

Two-time world boxing champion Ariane Fortin of St-Nicholas, Que., saw her quest for an Olympic medal quashed in a matter of minutes Sunday morning after a controversial split-decision loss to Kazakhstan's Dariga Shakimova in her first-round fight.

Canadian medal favourite eliminated in 1st fight by Kazakhstan's Dariga Shakimova

Kazakhstan's Dariga Shakimova, left, absorbs a right hook from Canada's Ariane Fortin during their middleweight match in Rio on Sunday. Fortin was eliminated from the Olympic tourney by a split decision. (Yuri Cortez/AFP/Getty Images)

By Doug Harrison, CBC Sports

Two-time world boxing champion Ariane Fortin of St-Nicholas, Que., saw her quest for an Olympic medal quashed in a matter of minutes Sunday morning after a controversial split-decision loss to Kazakhstan's Dariga Shakimova in her first-round fight.

Shakimova, the two-time Asia champion, won the middleweight (69-75-kilogram) bout 2-1 on points by scores of 37-39, 38-38 and 39-17 at Riocentro Pavilion 6.

Danish judge Clause Bedemann scored two rounds to each fighter for a 38-38 draw. He scored the fourth, two-minute round 10-9 for Shakimova despite the fact Fortin looked stronger and landed a clean left hand.

An official with a tied score must choose the boxer he believes was the most active and landed the best and highest number of punches, and Bedemann chose Shakimova.

Fortin and her team were stunned.

"I thought [Fortin] had the match. She was more precise, a little bit more active," Canadian head trainer Daniel Trepanier said. "But when we saw the decision was taking a long time and we saw them playing with their pencils in the corner, we started to get nervous.

"In the last round, she showed her superiority. But well, the judges decided otherwise … It was a judgment, they see the fights differently from us. In any case, they don't share the same opinion."

Pat Fiacco, president of Boxing Canada, who sits on AIBA's executive committee, also had trouble making sense of the decision. While there are five judges scoring the fight, only three are used to tabulate the result.

After the fight, Fortin was asking herself whether all the sacrifices she'd made to get to Rio had been worth it.

"Not sure," the 31-year-old Fortin said. "But I'm sure that at the end of the line, I'll tell myself that it allowed me to experience great things anyways. It's a lot of disappointment, but it remains that I'm an Olympian, and that's something that will always remain.

"The most important thing is to be proud of my performance, and that's what I'm going to hold onto, despite the immensity of the disappointment."

Fortin was also careful with her comments, saying she didn't want to "speak against the AIBA," the sport's world governing body.

Fortin had waited four years for a shot at an Olympic medal after she was outpointed and beat out for a spot on Team Canada at the national championships in 2012 by friend-turned rival Mary Spencer.

Fortin will leave Rio empty-handed, one year after winning a bronze medal at the Pan Am Games in Toronto.

Shakimova appeared the busier fighter in Round 3 and offered a flurry of punches midway through the round but not all landed. Fortin had the edge in more crisp punches thrown, including a left with 40 seconds remaining.

The Canadian controlled the centre of the ring in the second round and delivered a solid left in the final 30 seconds.

The 27-year-old Shakimova is no pushover, though, as she won the Asian Boxing Championship in 2010, Kazakhstan Boxing Championship in 2013 and a gold medal at the Asian Championship a year ago.​

While the 2014 world bronze medallist had tempered expectations entering the Rio competition, she was eager to get another chance to beat reigning Olympic champion Claressa Shields, who prevailed when they faced each other in the 2015 Pan Am semifinals.

Fortin began boxing at 16 and within five years ranked third in the world in her weight class. Her path to this year's Canadian Olympic team started with a silver medal in the 75 kg division at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

"In coming to the Olympic Games, I said I didn't want to judge my career based on what I did here," she said. "It's not true that we judge 15 years on one tournament. I'm very proud of my performance. For the moment, that's what I'm going to focus on."

'Chechen Wolf' has quarter-finals in sights

Canada's Arthur Biyarslanov, affectionately known as "The Chechen Wolf," lost his fight in the Round of 16 on Sunday to Germany's Artem Harutyunyan in the men's light welterweight (64 kg) weight class.

The 21-year-old Russian-born Biyarslanov, who left Chechnya with his mother 13 years ago and settled in Toronto, scored a 3-0 win over Obada Alkasbeh of Jordan in his opening bout on Thursday.

Last summer, Biyarslanov won Canada's first Pan Am gold in boxing since Chris Clarke in 1975, fighting in the junior welterweight category.

With files from The Canadian Press


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